Evolution of a large-scale sculptor examined


Visual artist John Raimondi discusses his work as part of the College of the Arts Thomas Schroth Visiting Artist Series in Kent State’s art gallery Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014.

Brittany Rees

With sculptures taller than buildings, artist John Raimondi told students and administrators Thursday night how he was inspired to graze clouds with his art.

“Art has the ability to transform someone’s life,” he said. “It has certainly changed my life.”

Raimondi presented his speech, “The Evolution of Monumental Sculptures,” to a full room in the second floor art gallery of the Art Building. Both students and Kent State administrators, including President Beverly Warren, gathered to hear Raimondi talk about his creative process.

Raimondi began his speech by dedicating his career to the people who supported him most: his parents.

“The one reason I’m here tonight is for my parents,” he said. “The only reason I’m alive is because of my parents.”

Raimondi scrolled through slides displaying the chronological evolution of his style in his works. One of his first pieces was for his mother, Erma Raimondi, which he created in 1976.

“This one is called ‘Erma’s Desire,’” he said. “And it was Erma’s desire that all four of her sons be happy. I was very blessed in that way.”

“Erma’s Desire,” standing 23 feet tall, is one of the smaller pieces Raimondi showed to his audience.

Raimondi led the audience through his artistic journey, up to the creation of his later works: monumental sculptures that stand between 60 and 80 feet tall.

“You can see here how smooth it is,” Raimondi said as he pointed to a detail photo of his 1989 sculpture, “Astorius.” “If you can see how I made it, if you can figure out how it’s done, it’s not finished. Even though they’re 60 feet tall, I’m meticulous.”

Raimondi took his audience through each series of sculptures he’s completed, from his earliest “Geometric Minimalism” series from the 1970s to his “Native American” series from the 2000s. Among his work, there are pieces designed for private buyers, corporate buildings, universities and public parks.

After explaining his most recent work, 2010’s “Cochise,” Raimondi finished his lecture with the final words, “And that’s how I’ve spent the last 43 years of my life.”

Raimondi spoke as this academic year’s first guest of the College of the Arts Thomas Schroth Visiting Artist Series.

“The series is meant to bring people into the community and spend some time with students on our campus,” said School of Art Director Christine Havice. “We take turns bringing artists in the schools of art, fashion, music and theater.”

College of the Arts Dean John Crawford spoke about Schroth, who passed in 1997 and whose friends endowed the series in his honor.

“Thomas Schroth was a great lover of the arts,” Crawford said. “Without this series in his memory, we would not have these experiences for our students.”

The Thomas Schroth Visiting Artist Series will continue in November with visual artist Nick Cave.

Contact Brittany Rees at [email protected].